Students weigh attending career fairs online, in-person


Angel Saldivar

A recruiter speaks with a student during the Gies Business career fair at the I-Hotel and Conference Center on Thursday. Students reflect on both, the Engineering and Gies Business, career fairs with it being held in-person and online.

By Jessie Wang, Contributing Writer

Career fairs for two of the University’s biggest colleges took place this week, bringing together thousands of students and dozens of employers. 

Both the Engineering and Gies Business career fairs were held in person and also offered an online alternative. Companies in attendance included John Deere, PepsiCo, Boeing and more. 

Jake Ettleson, a graduate student studying industrial engineering, said there’s a lot of benefits of the virtual career fair, a format popularized by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was interesting to have those 10-minute conversations with a recruiter where it’s just one on one,” Ettleson said. “There’s not a ton of background noise.”

He said that going in person offers the ability to meet with more companies and “make more of a lasting connection.” 

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

According to the Gies College of Business website, attending the in-person fair offers the benefit of “bumping into interesting employers” and “coming and going as you please,” whereas the virtual option allows students to “build a predetermined schedule that is flexible around (their) other commitments.”

Eduardo Martinez, junior in Engineering, said he was interested in networking at the career fair.

“I’m here to look for opportunities, especially internships right now,” Martinez said. “I also want to get some insight on the different companies here.”

He says that the University does a good job of advertising the event and preparing students. 

“There’s a lot of resources and information about what to expect,” Martinez said. “The students here are collaborative — they help each other.”

Ettleson said that he is thankful for his engineering fraternity, Sigma Phi Delta. Being in the fraternity provided Ettleson with interview practice and networking opportunities.

“I think having a professional network has been good to bounce questions off of and ask questions in preparation for the fair,” Ettleson said. 

However, both Ettleson and Martinez said that the lines were very long.

“There was a long queue for the career fair,” he said. “Hopefully that can be improved over the years or in the future. But otherwise, I think it’s a very nice job.” 

Using tickets or having staggered time slots could improve the lines, Martinez said.

“But other than (long lines), I feel like it’s an extremely great opportunity,” he said.

Meanwhile, Janaki Thangaraj, a representative for Tate & Lyle, a food and beverage supplier, experienced the fair from a different perspective. 

Thangaraj is an Illinois alum and graduated from LAS with a degree in chemical engineering last December. She noted that returning to campus feels surreal. 

“I was actually recruited at this career fair last year,” Thangaraj said. “I’m really excited to meet this new class of engineers … and to recruit some really great engineers.”

Joseph Mendoza, who represented Medline — a medical supply manufacturer and distributor — at the career fair, expanded further on the recruiting process. He says that students should know their values and evaluate “if the company’s values align with those.” 


[email protected]